Mass Effect 3 Hands-On Preview: More Shooting Less Role-Playing

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Mass Effect has been one of my favorite new I.P’s this generation without a doubt. There were many who didn’t like the second game so much due to the large amount of change from the first game to the second, but I actually really liked the second game, even though the first game was more defining. After Mass Effect 3 was pushed back earlier this year, everyone has been patiently awaiting the conclusion to Commander Shepard’s story. I had the chance to get some hands on with Mass Effect 3 last week, and although I think the game will blow me away when I play it in it’s entirety, the demo felt very lackluster.

The demo opened up with an exchange of dialog between Shepard and Salarian geneticist Mordin. The mission was to rescue a Krogan captive whom Mordin likely has interest in to help cure the genophage. Garrus and Liara were on call to assist Shepard in the demo, but most likely in the actual game you will be able to chose the party members before entering this specific mission.

Now if I’m dead honest I have to say that this demo felt entirely like a Mass Effect 2 DLC pack. There was no apparent step up in graphics or gameplay at all. The only two differences that stood out to me was the addition of indicators whilst in cover, which are there to show you which position are available for Shepard to switch to, or pop out of cover. It’s great to see that Shepard can now roll from cover to cover, but the cover system did feel a little clunky still and it actually almost got me killed. Hopefully that’s ironed out before release. The second addition I noticed was an ability that allowed me to switch to a whole different line of attack; for example I chose to play as a Sentinel which is essentially a tech class, but by activating this ability I was able to access Biotic abilities that usually would not be available to a Sentinel.

As I mentioned I was accompanied by Garrus and Liara, and the demo actually let me assign some points to their skills. From what I saw there was nothing new here, just the same old skills we’ve seen in Mass Effect 2. Squad controls were all managed just the same as in Mass Effect 2, allowing you to use the D-Pad to send either Garrus or Liara to your desired position (based on where you point your crosshair), you can also still choose a weapon or ability for them to use with the left and right bumper buttons. One thing I was impressed with was how much Bioware have improved upon the A.I, squad members are no longer a burden in combat, they actually make logical decisions in combat.

After gunning down a building full of Cerberus enemies, we were faced with a huge Mech boss to take out. This was easy enough, my strategy was to have Liara and Garrus catch his attention, allowing me to sneak behind him and put my grenade launcher to good use.

So in conclusion, either Bioware and EA weren’t out to impress with this demo specifically, or Mass Effect 3 is going to be more of the same in terms of gameplay, focusing more on the actual storyline which no doubt has us all hooked. Ultimately I would prefer to reserve judgment until we all have the game in our hands. Mass Effect 3 launches on March 6th, 2012.

About The Author
Gary A. Swaby Co-founder/UK Managing Editor
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